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August 29, 2019 ELA Resources - Tip Sheets, REL Sacraments- Eucharist, REL PD - Family Faith

Enhance Family Worship & Celebrate the Sacraments Together

The purpose of this blog post is to help families utilize strategies to worship together, despite the challenges and distractions that parents often face when bringing children to Mass and the sacraments. Here I offer three suggestions for all families to celebrate the sacraments well together, whether you have one child, or six like me! Plus, download my free Three Things to Help Your Family Worship Well Tip Sheet. Available in English and Spanish!

Enhance your family worship despite the challenges that parents often face when bringing kids to Mass and the sacraments!

The Challenge of Making it to Mass 

As parents of six kids (ages 11 years to 7 months), my wife and I sometimes struggle to worship well together. First off, our “six little distractions” make it very difficult to get excited about going to Mass. Trying to get everyone ready and out of the door on time is quite a task! Despite popular opinion, being a deacon couple doesn’t guarantee your kids like going to church. I am amazed by the number of convenient short-term illnesses and strange pains that my children seem to mysteriously develop on Sunday mornings.

Once we have successfully left the house on Sunday morning, there arises the challenge of actually attending Mass with six kids. My wife and I whisper “shh” so many times that those around us probably think it’s how our family communicates—a language built on a series of “shh’s”, each with its own inflection and meaning. It get really old, really fast. These interruptions can also make hearing and reflecting on the readings, homily, and prayers very difficult. In those moments, I am tempted to sneak a peek at my phone and check the latest sports news.  

So what is a family to do? You might not have six kids—statistically, the odds are you don’t—but if you have a child or children, there are some things you can do that can really help you celebrate the sacraments well, together. These are three things that our family has discovered out of necessity and experience that can help your family celebrate the Mass and sacraments together.

Want more tips for enhancing your family worship? Download the Three Things to Help Your Family Worship Well Tip Sheet and use to prepare for a great Sunday experience at Mass this weekend.

Want more tips for enhancing your family worship? Download the Three Things to Help Your Family Worship Well Tip Sheet and use to prepare for a great Sunday experience at Mass this weekend.

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Ways to Enhance Your Family Worship

1. Focus on Others

First, it helps to remember that sacraments are celebrations of God’s love for his entire people, not just you. The sacraments are special encounters with God, who gives us his grace so that we can love him and our neighbor as ourselves—you guessed it—more gracefully

Remembering that the sacraments are meant to offer us grace for the sake of healing and strengthening our family and community keeps us less focused on ourselves and more focused on others. A good mantra to have before and during Mass is, “ I am here to receive the grace I need to serve my family and my Church.”

A good mantra to have before and during Mass is, “I am here to receive the grace I need to serve my family and my Church” 

2. Take Time to Prepare

Second, celebrating the sacraments well means taking time to prepare for the celebration. If you know it will be difficult to pay attention during Mass, take time to read the Sunday readings with your spouse or the whole family before Mass. Discuss the readings. Remind children that they can listen for these readings during Mass, which will help them pay attention to the words being spoken and read.

It is important to acknowledge the struggles that each of you are facing when attending Mass. Family prayer is a great way to do this! When you pray as a family throughout the week, add the intention of “paying attention at Mass” or “getting the most out of Mass” or “enjoying Mass together” to your list of intentions. Share with each other what would help you get the most out of Mass.

 

When you pray as a family throughout the week, add the intention of “paying attention at Mass” or “enjoying Mass together”

3. Provide Kid-Friendly Resources

Third, make the small investment in a children’s Bible  and a children’s Mass guide. If you have particularly squirmy kids, as I do, these and other kid-friendly resources can be a great way to keep them engaged in their relationship with God without providing them with an alternative activity that will distract them from the Mass.

Being able to look at pictures of the Scripture stories they are hearing, or following along with the order of the Mass and praying along will help them actively engage and participate at Mass, which means less “shh-ing” from parents.

Kid-friendly Mass resources can be a great way to keep your children engaged in their relationship with God...

 

In Conclusion

Worshiping well as a family takes some planning and some effort, but the payoff is worth it. I’ve seen my kids slowly evolve from not liking Sunday Mass, to not minding it, to sort of liking it. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress! 

 

Dcn. Matthew Halbach, PhD. He is the Executive Director of Catechesis for William H. Sadlier, Inc. and a a member of the USCCB National Advisory Council.

This post is the third in a series of three posts guest authored by Dcn. Matthew Halbach, PhD. He is the Executive Director of Catechesis for William H. Sadlier, Inc. and a a member of the USCCB National Advisory Council. He earned his PhD in Catechetics from The Catholic University of America in 2014. He is married with six children. As the “Deacon Doctor,” Deacon Halbach will be a featured guest blogger throughout the summer on the Sadlier Religion Blog on the topic of Summer, Family and Faith. If you missed them, you can read his first and second post here.